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Rapid Fire Thoughts on the New HTC One (M8)

htc one m8

Both Tim and I have had the HTC One (M8) in our possession for 24 hours now. We have taken the phone through an unboxing and quick tour, showed off the Dot View Flip Cover, and are deep diving into preparations for a full review. But before we get there, all sorts of initial thoughts have run through my mind about this 2014 flagship from the Taiwanese manufacturer that I wanted to share. Some good, some bad.

Below, since this is by no means a full assessment of the phone, I’ve put together a bunch of quick hitters that touch on things like the randomness of HTC using “(M8)” in the name, how much I love on-screen buttons, and how confusing it is that HTC and Google want you to pay $699 for the Google Play Edition.

We’ll have more later, but here are some initial thoughts. 

  • What’s with the name? Since when do we use codenames in official product names that consumers see? “2014″ or “new” wasn’t good enough? We had to go M8? Talk about the potential to be confusing to everyone involved. Is it the One or the M8? Is it both? No one would have complained if the name just stayed “HTC One.” Google did it with the Nexus 7 last year, as has Apple in the past with the iPad. It worked just fine.
  • Preparing to be disappointed by the camera. We are far from finishing up our testing of the M8′s camera, but I’m not going to lie – I’m super skeptical already, bordering on expecting to be disappointed. HTC gave us the same 4MP (“UltraPixel”) camera as last year, took out OIS, and slapped on a gimmicky depth sensor, so that you can refocus photos after the fact or do really terrible 3D-shaky-processed things. Both Sony and Samsung are doing refocusing with one sensor and are also giving us a real image resolution. The shutter is insanely fast though, so there is something.
  • Holy sh*t does this phone feel premium. I mentioned this in my unboxing yesterday, but the minute you pick-up the One (M8), you are guaranteed to notice the quality. I keep referring to it as mobile luxury. No other phone on the planet feels as premium as this device. The soft curves, the all-metal body, the fine lines, the color, all make this the prettiest and most well built phone I’ve ever touched.
  • But why is this phone so damn tall? As premium as it feels, though, this phone is way too tall. It’s almost a full 10mm taller than the original One, which I’d argue was already too tall of a phone. I’ve had to adjust the way I hold a phone with the M8, because there is a constant need to shimmy to get to the notification bar.
  • On-screen buttons! HTC failed miserably last year with its capacitive Home-Back button setup on the original One. It was confusing and required too many double taps or long presses to get anything done. With on-screen buttons on the M8, it makes the phone feel like it’s actually running Android and meets some of Google’s vision for the operating system.

htc one headphone

  • Headphone jack on the bottom! Yes! Finally, someone else gets it (or had to for engineering purposes). A headphone jack on the bottom of a phone is one of those design tweaks I will praise until the end. It makes sense for when you put your phone in your pocket, for when you are holding the device in hand and listening to music, and also if you use your phone in the car. Thank you, HTC!
  • micro SD slot! One of the first things I did yesterday upon opening my One (M8) from Verizon, was slap in a 128GB micro SD card. Why? Because why not? In a time where Google is trying to convince everyone to kill off the micro SD slot, HTC went ahead and brought it back. Screw the cloud.
  • Gestures are awesome, but let me customize them. One of my favorite features of the M8 is screen-off gestures. With the phone in an off state, you can double tap to wake the screen or swipe in a variety of directions to get into BlinkFeed, launch a voice dialer, and unlock. I just wish HTC would let us customize them. Think if you could set swipes to open specific apps or launch something like Google Now? Let’s do it, HTC, the infrastructure is already there.
  • BoomSound needs to be in all phones. Do I need to say anything else? The One (M8) – like the original One – is a portable speaker with a phone attached. The sound it produces, is simply amazing for a phone.
  • That display tho’.  The 5-inch Super LCD 3 display on the One (M8) is gorgeous. Colors pop without looking cartoonish, viewing angles are amazing, text is crisp, and there isn’t a pixel to be seen.
  • Google Play Edition price, lulz. Seriously, $699 for the Google Play Edition? It’s like HTC is giving you a discount for the Sense version, which is the version they put all their hard work and energy into. If you want the phone with all of their efforts removed, that’ll cost you more! Ridiculous.
  • Still liking BlinkFeed, I know, I’m weird. After all this time, I still like BlinkFeed. The new version is much prettier than the last, has more apps I like that can be added into it, and still gets me easily digestible news and information without much effort.
  • Great job on availability, HTC. Terrible job with the leaks, HTC. HTC should be given props for making this phone available on all major U.S. carriers from day one. They should also be given major props for making the phone available in store at Verizon on day one. With that said, since they waited to announce it until it was ready to ship, it leaked left and right. There were zero surprises yesterday even though their marketing team kept telling us to wait to see the truth and not believe everything on the internet. This was one of those cases where the internet was 100% right.
  • HTC is so close.  This phone is not the perfect smartphone. I know that within the first day of using it. It seems like a really great phone – potentially one of the best ever made – but it’s not perfect. There are trade-offs with the camera, plus the size can be a bit overwhelming. We’ll have more on that in the full review.

For those who picked this phone up already, do you have any thoughts to share?

htc one-10

  • alex drum
  • Chris

    How long do you figure before a new HTC One Max based on this?

  • alex drum

    People need to get into stores and PLAY with this phone before they pass judgement. there are so many small features that combine to make one hell of a product! I no longer need remotes to control my home theater and TV downstairs because of this phone. the wide angle lense can fit 3 guys shoulder to shoulder in a “selfie” with room to spare, there is never an instance when you need to get that classic selfie syndrome where you come away with red cheeks because you all had to squeeze so hard to get in the shot. the the speaker is not only LOUD and can easily fill a room but it puts out clear full sound. my galaxy nexus was supposed to have an instant shutter… and it did.. but when you hit the button on this phone it seems like the picture was taken a second before and it is waiting on you to react haha. also with the ultra pixel… no it doesn’t take a 13mp photo but in low light with that 13mp camera when you start bumping up the exposure detail and clarity start falling out FAST. with the ultra pixel it can take much more natural looking photos with much less light. there is so much more but go an experience it for yourself. you will honestly be amazed. this is honestly the first smartphone I have owned that has really seemed to blend into my life seamlessly. stuff like the smart answer system (bring the phone to your ear) just makes sense!

    • joejoe5709

      So… better selfies makes this phone better than say a Galaxy S5 or a G2? Eh… for marketing purposes let’s just leave it at Boomsound. Boomsound is amazing! By the way – 3 guys shoulder to shoulder squeezed into a photo with red cheeks?? I’m not sure I’ve ever had that problem. All the major flagships (except Nexus and I believe Motorolas) have IR Blasters if that’s what you mean about not needing a remote. We’ll see how it does in the camera department, but for a lot of people the megapixel count is a deal breaker in itself. The idea is that we want to leave our regular point-and-shoot cameras at home and still be able to blow up the photos if needed. And the best way to do that is lots and lots of megapixels. I’m glad you like your new phone. It’s absolutely gorgeous!

      • alex drum

        If you honestly think being able to take amazing selfies is not a marketable item… well idk what to tell you. few points… every teen EVER takes selfies constantly (yes that is an overstatement, i’m 19 and i’m not crazy about it)… point being is it is a huge thing in modern culture. Being able to capture moments with friends is actually very nice, i’m not so into duck faces but I do enjoy the ability to document awesome moments of ether me or me and friends without the hassle of squeezing into a small picture frame. with the wide angle lense it can fit 3 guys shoulder to shoulder (plus some extra space) instead of a standard lense that fits 3 people… but it is 1 person with 2 over their shoulders. also the quality of the self photos is impressive. its cool to be able to take a picture of yourself on top of a mountain after a hike and the more friends/environment you can fit into the shot the better… thats my opinion at least… for that matter there is a song #SELFIE that is a parody of how crazy obsessed modern culture is with “selfies”.

  • ASV505

    G2 gestures is a great idea and the design looks great but the phone is gigantic and sense has gotten ridiculous. No thanks. G3 is next

  • davidtb

    Dislikes: 4mp camera, headphone jack on the bottom, an unnecessary public address system (use yer headphones bro, we don’t wanna hear your $#!+), SD slot w/o fixing performance, your access is only as fast as your cheap-@$$ card. It’s 700 freekin’ dollars
    Likes: SD slot(OK sounds contradictory, but more space is..more space, Kitkat vanilla but only if it gets updated as quickly as the Nexus. Like the build quality of HTC, but I have an N5, and I’m already looking at this phone, how long you gonna keep it, and do you buy used phones on eBay?

    • alex drum

      HAHA. So you must also dislike every portable stereo ever? BRO. also you must not know what makes sense, the cord on the bottom makes sense based on how normal people put their phones in the pockets, also SINCE WHEN IS IT 700$?!

      • davidtb

        When you get a little bored you can do some homework..
        https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=htc_m8

        • alex drum

          The HTC M8 IS 600$ The HTC M8 play edition is 700$.

          • davidtb

            Agreed, but you’re locked into a carrier, (in the US,not a contract) and between the manufacturer and the carrier, you probably won’t see a OS upgrade for the life of the device., why would you buy a new phone, if the free update makes your old phone faster?
            All I am saying is that features are being reshuffled from one model to another, nothing new.
            I have no problems with HTC or Moto (owned both at 1 time or another) but brighten up the camera,(like the ridiculously neat Nokia component) and address the SD slot issues (cheap mem, slow mem). If they’re selling 100000(0) smartphones over the life of the model, the device should offer compatible memory solutions at a point of purchase for a special price, for performance sake. At least put out a list of chip models and their corresponding performance to that model. The real problem is money, and they don’t have to offer anything. For the next few years new people (who swore you’d never get them on one of them devices) are being introduced to them and that’s new money. I think portable stereos have a time and a place, and many that use them seldom consider that.
            I also want you to know that I put a bit of thought into this response, as to not be inflammatory, tho long winded, and offer an opinion.
            db.

          • alex drum

            Ill start from the top. 1 HTC is pretty good pushing updates. 2 verizon has NO play edition of any phone available… so i dont see what you point is. if you get a play edition on say at&t… you dont have to worry about verizon holding back your upgrade so why not get a full fledged HTC phone… the play edition take so much away many features that makes this phone amazing. the boom sound tweaks, and many camera features. why get a new phone if a free update makes your old one faster? well… first off the updates do not always make old phones faster and also at some point they are no longer supported. if you honestly dont the the M8 will ever see an OS update you are a FOOL. Google is trying to phase out SD cards all together, it is a gift that you have the option of one at all in this phone. you will never get your list because SD cards in phone will be a thing of the past. you are just complaining to complain man… idk what bandwagon you are riding be it samsung, nokia, lg… ect… but you are obviously complaining just to complain. i dont get why you are complaining about a slow SD… at least you have the option, most phones lock you down to nothing. also complaining about 700$ off contract is SILLY because almost all high end smartphones released at 650-700$ off contract! the 600$ is again… just something nice like the SD. i dont think it is fair or logical to complain about features based on some users misuse of them… like people can go around blinding people with the flash on their camera… does that mean we shouldn’t have a flash on our phone? i don’t get your point and i don’t think i ever will because most phones released at 700$, most phones don’t have have SD slots at all, the phone will undoubtedly receive an update, and people can misuse literally anything ever… doesn’t make it bad… if someone shoots someone else, do you blame the gun or the person?

          • davidtb
          • alex drum

            it has been out 2 days.

  • danix180

    They made it so dam tall because they added that dam logo bezel on the bottom!!
    Very poor design decision.

    Just compare the bezel size to s5 or LG G2 and you’ll see a huge difference. I’m wondering what’s the bezel/display ration on this phone?!

    • joejoe5709

      Moto X and Nexus 5 also have a great bezel ratio. The G2 is simply impressive to behold. Unless you take on-screen keys into effect as unusable space, then they’re all about the same. The original One was right around the ratio of the Galaxy Nexus. Can’t imagine the M8 is much different. Then if you factor in on-screen keys, it’s a REALLY bad ratio for the M8.

  • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

    soooo close htc…i LOVE almost everything about your direction…i think it can be a real winner and challage other phone manufacturers to up their games…but that size though…that bezel…i mean come on people the most popular phone in the world is the iphone and its a small fingerprint(too small mind you) i still thing moto got it right with the x…i do love metal though i mean when i had my og droid and then went to the og razr and then…..the galaxy nexus?…i was like never again….love my moto x build bc it feels solid through n through with its matte finish but id absolutly love a unibody brushed metal…moto x2?

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    So, I could get a brand new Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 for *less* then I can get a Google Play edition HTC One?

    Herpaderp.

  • Ismail Akram

    I just see that commenters are more disappointed then reviewers. Everyone, reviewer praising HTC ONE (2014) M8 but all commenters are nitpicking.

  • ImmaDroid

    @Kellex B I think the M8 in the name is actually smart and less confusing! Whats confusing is Reusing the name, and saying “the all new HTC One” So at least when you do searches, its easier to specify by The HTC One M8. Because even yesterday when I was searching the announcement, I googled the new HTC one, and videos for the original ONE came up, with the new Sense rom loaded on it. As soon as I put in M8, it differentiated the two phones!

    Like the Razr, or Maxx line. You know how hard it is to separate the 3 years of phones lol.

    • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

      car manufacturers do it all the time…i dont see a problem with it…sounds better i think the alll new 2014 htc one! would have been fine with it…oh u got the one? yeah i got the 13, i like the 14, but ill wait for th 15..bam

  • Gideon Waxfarb

    In regard to the headphone jack being on the bottom, that sounds problematic if the phone is docked. Unless it can output audio via USB?

    • Nikuliai

      you can always do wireless… but to be honest having it at the bottom of the phone is what smart people would do, dunno why they do it the other way around (that’s one of the few things I hate about my X)

      • Gideon Waxfarb

        How does going wireless work? I mean, if you use the headphone jack to output audio when you’re phone is docked, how the hell are you supposed to do that when the headphone jack is on the bottom?

    • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

      only time i use the headphone jack is when im at the gym listening to music and i miss it being on the bottom like on my gnex…and when im in my car and im using all access through my car speakers and i DEF miss it being on the bottom…i never see the point of docking and using headphones? or w.e u mean…im sure u can get a dock that can get the audio through the microusb

      • Gideon Waxfarb

        Docking using headphones is handy when you’re at work, and you can’t transfer any music to your work PC, or access any streaming services through the corporate network.

  • mcdonsco

    To me, being on a note 3 now, I’m just not seeing enough to justify it PLUS the overwhelming crap support for HTC’S over the years doesn’t help…cool phone, but i really need to see more, from htc, to get me onboard with them again.

    • DisQussIt

      This phone Blows my Samsung Note II away. HTC One Hands down is the winner. IMO.

  • Weston Clark

    Coming from a Galaxy Nexus I am paranoid about battery life and not having a removable battery. I don’t care about the camera. If I was a serious photographer why would I use a phone for pictures? Also, boom speakers!

    • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

      well said…but gnex was the worst phone ive ever had battery wise…we shouldnt have to walk around with spare batterys i dont miss a removable bat at all…i went to a droid hd which lasted twice as long(still charge at work ima power user) and now a moto x(lil worse then droid hd was) but i wouldnt trade the form factor for removable battery any day of the week

    • joejoe5709

      I loved my GNex and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. But it’s astounding what we put up with on a daily basis. Terrible camera, miserable battery life, and occasionally wonky radios. And this is all from day one. I know the display had its own oddities but I loved how large and saturated it was especially compared to just about everything else in 2011/2012. Very few phones at the time had VZW LTE. And it was amazing. The processor was an odd choice and it didn’t hold up over time very well (maybe because I abused it), but it was extremely powerful for its time. Thankfully some of the later updates breathed new life into the phone and I hear Kit Kat runs fairly beautifully. I still love the clean and classy face with the slight curves here and there. Throw in a dev community that is only recently falling off and it’s an epic enthusiast phone.

      But as for the HTC’s camera… I don’t know about you but I love not needing a second camera everywhere I go. My point-and-shoot is seriously only collecting dust the last few months. A decent camera with a decent megapixel count can be a big deal to some people.

  • Milische

    This phone is amazing. Picked up the Verizon version yesterday, and I have no ragrets. Not even a single letter.

  • John Kitchen

    Camera is fantastic tbh

  • ImmaDroid

    @kellex:disqus I think the M8 in the name is actually smart and less confusing! Whats confusing is reusing the name, and saying “the all new HTC One” So at least when you do searches, its easier to specify by The HTC One M8. Because even yesterday when I was searching the announcement, I googled the new HTC one, and videos for the original HTC One came up, with the new Sense rom loaded on it. As soon as I put in M8, it differentiated the two phones! So I think it actually helps in this case.

    Like the Razr, or Maxx line. You know how hard it is to separate the 3 years of phones lol.

  • Drome

    “HTC is so close. This phone is not the perfect smartphone.” Soooo much this. HTC is putting out so much awesome but the camera and large chin are just errors in design judgement. I had an HTC One M7 and loved the premium feel but the camera left a lot to be desired, especially on AOSP or GE ROMs. When the Nexus 5 was released I traded my One and was happy until I saw this M8. There are soooo many reasons why this phone kicks ass. HTC is so so close to getting this right, but I am afraid the camera is going to be the achilles heel of this phone. If they were able to make the new screen fit while eliminating the black HTC bar and just put an 8mp or 13mp OIS camera in there and no gimmicky duo this phone would be a major hit and I would be buying one right now. PLEASE figure this out HTC.

    • Jim Davis

      Why does everyone get hung up on the number of megapixels in a phone camera? There is simply no reason to go 8 or 16Mp when the camera lens is so tiny that you can’t resolve that image clearly.

      I’ve said this before, but I have a DSLR that I bought in 2005 that has a 6Mp sensor and it blows away any 13Mp camera phone that you compare it to. There is simply no point in putting a very high resolution image sensor behind a tiny smartphone lens.

      • Drome

        in theory I agree with you. I bought the original HTC One saying the same thing. But compared to other cameras on the market, the HTC one’s camera lacks detail and is fuzzy. I went to a VZW store and played with the new one and it seems to suffer from the same problem. If you are going to put a 4mp camera in a phone, it better kick ass. The new HTC One’s camera doesnt kick ass, thats the problem.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    Headphone jack on the bottom is a terrible idea, which is why virtually no one does it.

    2 simple examples.. you have an upright desktop stand or an angled desktop wireless charger… forget using them if you have earphones on unless you turn the phone to the side or upside down – or drill a hole in them.

    • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

      i downvoted u…bc people who dock their phone with headphones on are idiots

  • Elmer Fudd

    You are fight on about the inclusion of the SD slot. But headphone jack on the bottom does not make sense especially in the car. In the pocket, I’ll have to have my phone upside down so the head phone jack is at the top of the phone anyway. Unless I can turn blinkfeed off that feature can diaf.

  • fartbubbler

    if I’m going to leave my Moto X (really don’t wanna lose Active Display and Touchless Control), it’s gonna be for a phone with an excellent camera.

    This ain’t it.

  • joejoe5709

    I couldn’t care less about the name. It was originally called the M8 and then something along the line made us think it’ll be the “New” HTC One. Now we’re back to M8. Which is fine with me. The LG G2 has the headphone jack on the bottom… Just sayin… And I agree. It’s one of those things you wouldn’t think is a deal breaker but it almost is. Props to HTC. Of course BoomSound is awesome. But if it means having bezels like this, I’ll do without it. If one of the other OEM’s would sneak some smaller speakers into the front of their phone within the same bezels, then I’m all for it. Speaking of which… is this thing seriously a full 10mm taller than the original?! Jeeeeebus that’s already a tall phone now made taller! It’s also nearly 8mm taller than my already difficult-to-grip G2. It’s actually a couple mm closer in height to the Note 3 than it is the original One. Ridiculous!! I also love the micro SD card slot and I’m glad to see someone other than Samsung including it. Hopefully this trend will catch on. (*Couch* LG *Cough Cough* Motorola) The One’s display was very very good even though it’s a 4.7″. It’s got the best pixel density of 2013 and fantastic color representation. But at 5″, is the M8′s significantly better than the S5′s or the G2′s? Doubt it. Oh and it’s a tiny bit smaller too. In a much larger body. With a smaller battery. And I’m assuming a significantly worse camera. Ugh. This isn’t even fun anymore.

    Obviously this is nowhere near the perfect phone. Just because it’s pretty looking and has nice speakers does not make it a good phone for the masses.The S5 and the already aging G2 are overall a much better package. Heck I’d probably still take a Moto X and definitely a Nexus 5 over this. Throw in that we’ll be seeing new product from LG and Motorola fairly soon and we’re really not left with too many good reasons to purchase the HTC One M8.

  • Will Frame

    I will never understand the obsession with headphone jack placement, but then, I have been using bluetooth headsets forever. The only time I even use the headphone jack is if I plug in something like an IR blaster (on devices that don’t have one) in which case the bottom is the WORST place for it.

    Seriously, though. Stop being audio snobs and join the 21st century already. Wired headphones are so last decade.

    • DanielMena9

      lol I was thinking the SAME thing. Bluetooth all the way. … although pebble needs to release 4.0 LE on Kit Kat soon before I jump on that Moto 360.

    • joejoe5709

      Personally it just makes sense to have the power cord and the headphone cord all coming from one place. It’s much easier to handle two cords at once and maybe it’s just me but it makes the top of the phone cleaner looking. Especially for things like pockets or holding your phone for gaming, it’s much much nicer this way. When sitting on my wireless charger, all cords exit the same direction off the edge of my nightstand without bending around. It drives me nuts that my N7 has the jack on top.

      I guess I haven’t “joined the 21st century” just yet and I’ve always found Bluetooth to drain my battery too much for the wireless benefit. Maybe it’s partly due to never owing a car with Bluetooth and I don’t have any wireless speakers in my house. So yes, I often have a headphone cord coming out of my pocket and when in the car my phone faces down into the cupholder with the auxiliary cord and the power cord attached.

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    and yeah the m7 was a hair too big and then they went bigger. It gives me something to desire next year.

  • Jordan Jax

    I love HTC…what more can I say?

    • Marikel

      Why

  • Aaron

    I think it is funny that all these people that have probably never even seen the phone are downing the camera. I got mine in the mail today and have been playing around with the camera and so far do not have any complaints. (Don’t knock it until you try it!)

  • Josh Shaw

    Why couldn’t HTC do a 16mp, or 13mp, or 8mp camera, and their 4UP camera, and let you choose which to use.

    • http://twitter.com/SParKlngCyaNide SparklingCyanide

      I wish! It’d make a good thing even better. :D

  • Jason Melling

    I must say I disagree with the on-screen buttons, I think they are a waste of screen space.

    • joejoe5709

      When there’s a giant black bar below the screen that looks prime for capacitive buttons, yes. Yes it is. Otherwise one hopes that on-screen keys means smaller bezels or at least bezels you can grip without accidentally clicking things. The G2. Nexus 5 and Moto X are great examples of small but functional bezels with on-screen keys.

    • https://www.facebook.com/christopher.johnsc chris_johns

      go back to mexico

  • Daeshaun Griffiths

    i smell compromise, i don’t like compromise. Someone didn’t follow their gut on the camera and the naming scheme i like. “Oh what HTC One do you have? the m9?” To me it’s like saying iPhone 5s.

  • Epic Tea

    instead of using that extra money to just put a normal mp camera they chose to use it for a gimmick…..facepalm….